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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Summer Intensives for beginning boys


finallykf

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Hi there. I am new to the board. My son turned 8 in October and has just started taking ballet and really likes it a lot. Luckily there is one other boy in his class who is very good so he isn't the only boy.

 

The schools in our area are all very "recreational" and the classes meet only once a week. Subsequently my son isn't really learning much in class. There are only about 8 kids in the class but I can tell that the teacher isn't really into it and she really doesn't show them the proper way of doing things - just has them kind of go through the motions with correction only if they are making an hugely obvious mistake. I used to dance when I was younger so I have been working with him at home.

 

I was hoping to find some kind of summer ballet intensive class for him but I am finding that he is either too young or that he needs to be more advanced to audition. Since he really likes ballet I am afraid that he is losing time since he didn't start taking lessons until 8 years old, so he needs some more intense training to catch up with the boys who have been taking it since they were very young.

 

Does anyone know of a summer intensive program that admits beginning boys? We are willing to travel anywhere for good instruction.

 

Thank you!!

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Finallykf, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! Don't worry, age 8-10 is the appropriate time to begin the study of classical ballet, and many boys begin even later, so he is actually starting toward the younger end of the spectrum. Classes once a week are normal at his age. Once he is a few years older, the frequency and intensity will gradually increase. It is also normal for eight year olds to have summers off--I would not worry about summer intensives until he is 12-14.

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American Academy of Ballet has programs for 7 - 9 non-residential. It's one of the first places someone recommended to us when our son was younger (but he was 11 at the time.) We never went so can't speak to it. I just remembered they had younger students. A lot of pre-pro schools that may be off the radar for most people (because they don't offer housing) offer 1/2 day programs for younger students. My DS' old studio does, but the information isn't on their website yet. Check your local area and see what schools are around. Even programs whose students often go away may offer summer "camp" type programs that are a combination of a ballet class a day with some other type of arts and crafts or other dance forms.

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Finallykf, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! Don't worry, age 8-10 is the appropriate time to begin the study of classical ballet, and many boys begin even later, so he is actually starting toward the younger end of the spectrum. Classes once a week are normal at his age. Once he is a few years older, the frequency and intensity will gradually increase. It is also normal for eight year olds to have summers off--I would not worry about summer intensives until he is 12-14.

 

That makes me feel better. My old ballet friends all seem to have boys that have been taking ballet since age 2 or 3 as part of a Mommy and Me class so I have felt like he is getting a late start. Maybe I'm thinking he needs more than he is doing because I am thinking back to my intense ballet days!! It's just so frustrating when I see him do something incorrectly that is easy to correct yet the teacher just ignores it. I wonder if some private lessons might be more of what he needs. He takes correction really well and learns quickly when we work together at home but I think it would better to have someone other than me teaching him.

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Look at san diego academy ballet. They actually have a large boys program. You can see on their website that 2 of the boys who just won for Billy elliot came form this school. My daughter is switching to this scholl and there are a number of boys in each class at all levels. Good Luck

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Maybe the solution would be to find a school with better teaching. If he is only doing one class a day, perhaps driving a farther distance would be a viable option to ensure he's learning things correctly! One thing to keep in mind - if he goes away to a summer program, learns things correctly, what will happen when he comes back to his regular class? Will he remember everything or revert to what he sees happening in the class around him - with no one to correct him or remind him of what he learned over the summer.

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In what area are you? Metropolitan Ballet Academy in Jenkintown, PA has a great boys program taught by Bill DeGregory and Sasha Iziliev of Pennsylvania Ballet. The classes are all boys and there are a bunch of them. The boys program is also fully scholarshipped (Is that a word?)

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The term "summer intensive" is often reserved for programs with older, more experienced kids. However, unadvertised summer programs for younger children are often available. For example, everyone knows about Houston Ballet's summer intensive for ages 12+. But, many don't realize they have an unadvertised program for levels 2 & 3 (generally ages 8-10). This program meets for a couple hours a few days a week. You simply have to call and ask them about it. It's designed for their younger year-round students, but they'll accept other students as well.

 

You said that no serious ballet schools exist in your area. Here's my recommendation: Call your closest professional ballet company and ask them what ballet schools they recommend. Most likely, at least one of these schools has a summer program that could accomodate your son.

 

I have to agree cheetah's post. If he gets a taste for serious ballet instruction over the summer, it may only make him unhappy with his rec school in the fall. You may want to hold off until you are in a position to drive him to a serious school year round. Many of us on this board routinely drive 45+ minutes one way to dance lessons because no good options exist in our area. With that in mind, the summer could be a good time to try out a more-distant school and see if can handle the commute.

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Texas Ballet Theater School (Fort Worth) has two intensives- the Senior is held at TCU and is for students 12-ish through 21 (trainee prospects). The Junior is held at the TBTS studios and is for ages 8-12 (ish).

 

Seniors must go 3 weeks or 5 weeks; Juniors can choose 1, 2 or 3 weeks.

 

Give them a call and they can tell you more about the difference between the two programs.

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I don't think you need worry about his losing time - many wonderful male dancers have started much later than 8! The more serious SI's all specify aged 10 and up and quite honestly I don't think that 8 is an age where the child can cope with being away from home at an intensive yet. The American Academy of Ballet course that someone mentioned is a non-residential five day course (9.30 - 3pm), but even there for 7 - 9 year olds they still specify two years dancing experience. Personally, I would let him dance for a couple of years and if he's still keen then start looking for a summer course, when he's ten. The one week Royal Ballet School summer course in England is an excellent one. It's residential at White Lodge, which is their Junior boarding school in Richmond Park.

 

However, as I said don't worry. Our younger pupils stop dancing every summer and nothing happens to them! Also, little boys, at least in my experience, seem to take longer than girls to develop and then they not only catch up but often overtake the girls. I received a little boy this year who had been dancing with our Juniors teacher since he was six. He was ten not long ago and his work has advanced really well this year - it's as if it's finally coming together for him.

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Relax. Breathe!!!! There are plenty of years for SI madness to set in.... :)

 

If you read the bios of professional dancers, you will find that many of them didn't even start ballet classes until much later than most girls. I think it's fine for him to just take regular classes for a few more years, and then, when he's begging, and I do mean on-the-knees-begging to go to an SI, then you can check into it. :innocent:

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